Interior Minister Noor-ul-Haq Ulumi defended the performance of the government in the initial fall of Kunduz. “They achieved it and it will take a long time for the government to recover”, Mir said.
The Afghan army and police force each have special forces units. Overall casualty numbers from the fighting, particularly among government forces, remained vague.
Despite the overnight USA bombing of Taliban positions, the militants had extended their grip on Kunduz through Wednesday, forcing government forces to retreat before returning with an offensive dealing a huge blow to the Taliban.
Afghan security personnel talk as they prepare to launch a counter-offensive to retake Kunduz from Taliban militants at the city’s airport on September 30, 2015. The global forces’ role has shifted to training and support after all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat forces withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of past year.
The Taliban sent mixed messages concerning their progress on Thursday, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid insisting that militant forces were holding their ground in the city.
Sediqqi said that control of Kunduz “was taken by 3.30am” on Thursday but conceded that an operation “to clear the city is ongoing” and could take a few days.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed in a phone interview Thursday morning that the group’s forces had evacuated the city, but said the move was made to prevent fighting that could lead to civilian casualties.
A doctor with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in Kunduz, Heman Nagarathnam, told the BBC that 296 people wounded in the fighting had been treated at the MSF trauma centre since Monday.
But Afghan forces were still battling insurgents in parts of the city.
One resident said: “The Taliban came to my house to searched for military supplies and when they could not find any, they asked me to join them as a soldier of jihad against infidel forces and assured me of a place in paradise after death”.
The goal of the insurgency was not to hold Kunduz – they have neither the manpower nor firepower to consolidate control of a large urban center.
The Taliban remain in control of at least two districts in the rest of Kunduz province. “We are still looking for explosives, terrorists and suicide bombers”.
Essa Khan, a resident of Kunduz near the airport base, said he saw the Americans leading the frontlines.
Local bakeries were selling stale bread at inflated prices and residents reported woeful shortages of water, medicines and electricity, as many people hunkered down in their homes amid the frequent gunfire.
It was not possible to immediately gauge how much of Kunduz was secured by the Afghan forces.
The city was captured by the Taliban during an overnight assault on Monday.
The United Nations said Wednesday the fighting in Kunduz left more than 100 civilians dead or injured and forced 6,000 people to flee the city.
“Kunduz has turned into a ghost city”, the man said, reporting that he had been hurt by shrapnel after getting caught in a firefight.
“The harrowing accounts we’ve received paint a picture of a reign of terror during the Taliban’s brutal capture of Kunduz this week”, Amnesty’s Afghanistan researcher, Horia Mosadiq, said.
The Interior Ministry said the operation was launched with ground forces moving from Kunduz airport – where they had massed since the city fell to the Taliban – over roads that had been mined by the insurgents.